Caps defenseman Taylor Chorney said he’s been told to prepare as if he’s playing in tonight’s Game 2 against the Pittsburgh Penguins, likely in place of Dmitry Orlov, who was benched after being on the ice for a goal in Game 1 Thursday night.
“They told me to be prepared as if I’m going to be playing,” Chorney said. "We’ll just see how it goes.”
Defenseman Karl Alzner did not participate in the team’s morning skate but Caps coach Barry Trotz said everyone is available to play tonight when the Caps try to take a 2-0 lead in the series.
“Watch warmups and you’ll see what we’re doing,” Trotz said.
Chorney played for the Penguins last season and earned a contract with the Capitals last summer. In 55 games this season Chorney, 29, recorded one goal, five assists and was a plus-8.
“I don’t know if you call it an advantage but I think you’re familiar with some of them,” Chorney said of the Penguins.
Chorney is expected to play on a third pairing with Nate Schmidt.
The Capitals lost both games that Chorney has played in the post-season. He replaced Brooks Orpik (upper body injury) in Games 4 and 5 against the Flyers in Round 1 before he was replaced by Mike Weber.
Trotz said Chorney’s play had nothing to do with his removal from the lineup for Game 6 against Philadelphia, indicating he made the move for Weber’s physicality.
Orlov has played in all 89 games for the Caps this season but Caps coach Barry Trotz said his leash is shorter with players in the playoffs than in the regular season.
“Playoffs, everything is about short-term memory and move forward,” Trotz said. “He’s done a lot of good things.”
The Caps could not shake Buffalo for two periods, but a dominant finish on Saturday helped them pull away for a 5-1 win. Here's how they finally put away the Sabres.
A quick start
Strong stars go a long way towards helping a team in the middle of a slump. It's a confidence boost for a team in desperate need of one and the Caps got that boost on Saturday from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov used his wheels to zip in behind the defense and score just 50 seconds into the game. Washington led 1-0 at the end of the first, just the second time in 19 games they have held a lead after the first.
Andre Burakovsky snapping second period slump
It looked in the second period like the Caps were caught trying to protect the lead again, but Andre Burakovsky woke the team back up with his incredible highlight end-to-end goal. It really looked like Buffalo was going to tie the game at one, but instead, Burakovsky extended the lead to two. Going end to end the way he did shows a player who is starting to play with some confidence, something Burakovsky has lacked at points this season.
Ovechkin's two-goal third period
Buffalo just would not go away. Sam Reinhart got the Sabres on the board just 14 seconds into the third period and suddenly the Caps found themselves in a one-goal game again. But Ovechkin ended any hopes for the comeback as he struck in the top corner of the net on the power play form the office. He would later add a deflection goal late to extend the lead to 5-1, giving a scuffling Washington team the dominant win they so sorely needed.
The Capitals needed a win in the worst way and they got one, dispatching the Buffalo Sabres in dominating fashion with a 5-1 win.
Washington was locked in a tight game leading 2-0 heading into the third period when Sam Reinhart scored just 14 seconds into the period. The Caps then slammed the door shut, scoring three unanswered goals to put away the Sabres.
Here are the three stars of the game.
1. Alex Ovechkin: This was career game No. 893 for Ovechkin, tying him for the franchise record for most games played with Calle Johansson. Ovechkin very fittingly celebrated the occasion with two goals. The first was a power play goal from the office. No need for a one-timer on this one, as the Sabres gave him all the time he needed to aim up the shot and wrist it into the top corner. He added a late
2. Evgeny Kuznetsov: To say the Caps have struggled at the start of games would be an understatement. In the last 18 games, Washington has held the lead after the first period only once. Kuznetsov made sure this game started off on the right foot as he scored just 50 seconds into the game. He turned on the jets in the neutral zone to turn the edge on Jason Pominville then easily skated around a weak, ill-advised challenge from Robin Lehner before flinging the puck into the yawning net. It was the fastest goal to start a game by the Caps this season. It was just the start of what would be a four-point night for the Caps' center as he added three assists.
3. Andre Burakovsky: Burakovsky had the highlight of the game with his end-to-end goal in the second period to put Washington up 2-0. He looked like he was shot out of a cannon as he launched himself from the defensive zone, streaked down the center of the ice and in on net to slide the puck through the Lehner's five-hole. Look how Burakovsky was able to slice through the Sabres' defense. Buffalo had him surrounded, but could not slow him down at all.